Sweden raises terror alert level

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson speaks during a press conference on the deteriorating security situation in the country, in Stockholm on August 17, 2023.

The decision of the Swedish security service is not really a surprise. After a summer marked by a series of attacks targeting the kingdom’s diplomatic representations abroad, as well as threats from various Islamist organizations, Stockholm raised its terrorist alert level by one notch on Thursday, August 17, going from three to four, on a scale that includes five.

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At a press conference, the head of the Swedish security service, Charlotte von Essen, assured that the decision had not been motivated by a particular incident, but by the fact that the risk of an attack “committed by violent Islamist actors increased during the year [2023] ». This threat should “persist for a long time”she added, specifying that Sweden, which was until then “a legitimate target”became a priority target” Islamists.

At the end of 2015, already, the alert level had been raised for a few months, due to threats emanating at the time from the Islamic State organization. The situation is different today: “Sweden is not only mentioned as part of the Western world, but is also referred to much more clearly in exhortations and propaganda”emphasizes Ahn-Za Hagström, head of the National Center for Terrorist Threat Assessment.

In question: the burning of the Koran, carried out with the authorization of the police, in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, in January, then in front of the largest mosque in the capital, at the end of June, and in front of the Swedish Parliament, a month later. Acts “considered as profanations”who have “contributed to giving Sweden the image of an Islamophobic country”summarizes Mme Hagstrom.

“Arrests in Sweden and abroad”

On Thursday afternoon, the Conservative Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson, judged that the situation was ” severe “ and revealed that plans for an attack had been foiled”, without going into details. He only mentioned “arrests in Sweden and abroad”. At the beginning of April, five men, suspected of planning a terrorist attack, were arrested in Eskilstuna, west of Stockholm. Four of them had been remanded in custody. They were released in early August, but the investigation is continuing and the “suspicions remain”said the prosecution.

The decision to raise the terror alert level comes just days after al-Qaeda urged Muslims in Sweden, Denmark [où le Coran a également été brûlé] and throughout Europe » to exercise their “duty of revenge” against the two Scandinavian kingdoms, referred to as “contemptible little countries, which are no more than two small specks on the map of the world”. Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called for ” to punish “ the authors of the burnings of the Koran.

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